Over a hundred arrests and cash, drugs and weapons seized across region in fight against county lines

Significant amounts of drugs and cash were seized, and over 100 arrests made across eastern England during a nationwide week of action tackling criminal activity related to County Lines crime.

County lines typically involves drugs gangs selling their products in other towns using a dedicated phone line. These offenders are often linked to serious violence and use intimidation, grooming and exploitation, particularly of young or vulnerable people, to run drug dealing networks across the country.

Police forces in the region, alongside the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) and other partners, took part in the operation aimed at disrupting existing lines, apprehending offenders and safeguarding those being exploited.

Over the week:

  • 104 arrests were made, largely for drugs supply, drugs possession and weapons offences
  • More than 75 people were safeguarded, with officers visiting over a hundred addresses thought to be linked to ‘cuckooing’ – a practice where vulnerable people’s homes are taken over and used for criminal purposes
  • Approximately £9,000 of crack cocaine and £9,000 of heroin was seized, along with amounts of cannabis and cocaine
  • Nearly £55,000 in in suspected criminal cash was seized
  • 13 knives of various styles and sizes were seized, along with knuckle busters, baseball bats and a baton
  • Assets suspected to be linked to criminal activity, including mobile phones, an e-scooter, a car and expensive clothing were also seized.

A wide range of tactics were used to target those thought to be involved in County Lines-linked crime, which can include things such as violence, criminal and sexual exploitation, modern slavery, and drugs offences.

Detective Inspector Kelly Gray, Regional County Lines Coordinator for ERSOU, said: “This latest week of intensification is another example of the excellent work taking place across eastern England to tackle the issues posed by county lines.

“The results seen across the region, achieved through the dedication of police and partners across a number of areas, is testament to tireless work throughout the year to protect the most vulnerable members in our communities.

“There are many different types of crime linked to county lines and our focus is on safeguarding those being exploited so we can get them the help they need. I’d urge anyone who thinks they know someone involved in associated criminality, or who is being exploited, to contact support services straight away.”

Possible signs of people being victimised by those running county lines include:

Changes in behaviour 

An unexplained amount of cash or new gifts such as clothes, jewellery, or expensive trainers

Owning a number of mobile phones

Unexplained travelling including train and bus tickets

Regularly going missing or skipping school

Physical signs of assault

Using new or different vocabulary, including slang words

If you have information about drug dealing in your area, or if you’re concerned that someone you know may be involved in a county line, it’s important you contact your local force as soon as possible on 101, or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

By Ed

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